American Idol Premiere Posts Strong Ratings, Bucks 2009 Drop

 Michael Becker/FOX

Almost ten years in, nothing can stop the American Idol juggernaut.

Following a minor ratings slump in 2009, the blockbuster reality competition posted impressive ratings for its ninth season premiere Tuesday, says the Hollywood Reporter. Featuring Simon Cowell (he announced Monday that it's his final season), guest judge Victoria Beckham but lacking the departed Paula Abdul, the audition episode pulled in 29.9 million viewers, far outpacing other programming.

"We are thrilled to come back this strong," Fox executive Mike Darnell told the Hollywood Reporter. "This is champagne cork-popping time!"

But the show, the article notes, reached its ratings zenith during season five (when Taylor Hicks triumphed), with slight, relative viewership declines in the seasons that followed.

Despite the high viewership, Tuesday's broadcast had its share of critics, who had particularly harsh words for Beckham. The Los Angeles Times called her "the night's saddest failure."

Although she made "plenty of appealing comments" and bonding "beautifully with fellow judge Kara DioGuardi," Posh Spice's "gaunt appearance was so off-putting it might have cost her the slot DeGeneres eventually won."

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